The Bloomberg Eurozone Retail Purchasing Managers' Index, an indicator based on a mid-month survey of economic conditions in the euro area retail sector and providing data one month ahead of government issued figures, fell a record 6.4 points from 48.2in March to a survey low of 41.8 in April. This signals the steepest monthly decline in sales since data were first collected in January 2004.
Retailers blamed a combination of bad weather, the timing of Easter, poor consumer confidence, squeezed household budgets due to rising food and energy prices for the steep drop in sales at the start of the second quarter. In Italy, ongoing political uncertainty was an additional factor cited by retailers.
Italian retail sales showed the largest fall of the three countries, with retail spending dropping at the fastest rate in the survey's history by a wide margin (the index was down from 36.4 to 31.4). Italian sales have now fallen for fourteen straight months.
The combination of rising non-staff costs and weak sales caused employment in the Eurozone retail sector to fall marginally in April, following marginal gains in the first three months of the year (the index fell from 50.1 to 49.5). A slight rise in French retail employment was countered by a small decline in Germany and a larger fall in Italy, where the rate of job losses in the past two months has been higher than at any time since late 2004.
Italy Economy Real Time Data Charts
Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Italy related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Italy economy charts together with short text updates on a Storify dedicated page Italy - Lost in Stagnation?